Last September I wrote about the poverty rate in the US.
"A record 46 million Americans were living in poverty in 2010, pushing the US poverty rate to its highest level since 1993, according to a government report on the grim effects of stubbornly high unemployment.... the US census bureau said the poverty rate rose for a third consecutive year to hit 15.1% in 2010. The number of people in poverty was the largest since the government first began publishing estimates, in 1959".
"The poverty rate was 15% in 2011, meaning 46.2 million Americans were in poverty, staying flat after three previous years of increases.
Real median income of households in the country dropped by 1.5%.
The average poverty threshold for a family of four in 2011 was $23,021 (£14,300).
Income inequality, as measured by the Gini index, increased by 1.6% in 2011, the first time there has been an annual rise in the index since 1993."
The US population rose by 2.2 million in the twelve months between when the figures were reported so actually the number of people in the US in poverty rose against a backdrop of increasing population. Concerning statistic at 14.8% of the population.
China's trade surplus has narrowed for a third straight year as demand for its products weakened in the US and Europe. Commerce Minister Chen Deming said the surplus was around $160bn (£103bn) in 2011. That compares with a record of $295bn in 2008. China has warned that its export growth will come under more pressure this year as US and European economic problems persist. The government has been trying to boost domestic demand as a result.
BBC News reports that "India's economy grew at its fastest rate for more than two years in the last quarter, according to official data. In the three months to June, GDP was up 8.8% compared with the same period last year. Although only the 11th biggest economy in the world, India is the second fastest-growing, behind China". Follow the link to read the full article.
Euractiv.com reports that new statistics show that employment in the agricultural sector has fallen by 25% since 2000, with reductions between 2.6% fewer jobs in Greece and 55% fewer in Estonia.
"The highest job losses were reported in the new member states, where employment fell by an average of 31.3% between 2000 and 2009. The 'old' member states of the EU fared somewhat better, recording an average decrease in labour input of 16.7%. Portugal and Poland are the exceptions to this rule, recording decreases of 31.6% and 11.3% respectively".
In new member states, agricultural labour input still accounts for 51.7% of the EU-27 total. The EU-27 average of 25% represents a loss of 3.7 million full-time jobs, from 14.9 million in 2000 to 11.2 million in 2009. "Between 2000 and 2009, real agricultural income per worker in the EU-27 increased by an average of 5%, but national figures ranged from a 140% increase in Latvia to a 28% fall in the Netherlands". Quite a stark difference! Between 2008 and 2009, real agricultural income per worker fell by 11.6% in the EU-27 mainly due to falling output prices. This poses real questions about the economic stability of rural areas in Europe.
After my post a week or so ago regarding food stamps in America I was concerned to read the BBC News article that "every third Indian is living below the poverty line". This article is based on a report by economist Suresh Tendulkar who used money spent by a person on specific household goods and services to define the poor. I think it is important to recognise that "barter" types of trade would therefore not be included in this statistic which in many poor regions of the world is a part of the economy that is often unrecognised. The report identified that the number of poor in cities had decreased, while those in villages had gone up.
The article states that: "The report has moved from the traditional method of enumerating the number of people living in poverty by measuring their calorie intake to one based on their spending on essential goods and services. Based on the new method, it found 37.2% of Indian's people living below the poverty line. The report found that over 40% of rural people survive on a per capita expenditure of 447 rupees ($9.6) every month, spending on bare essentials like food, fuel, clothing and footwear".
This is a lower line than the "dollar a day" povery line often discussed - how much of India's population would fall below that line? This is a stark reminder of spending power across the world as I am submerged in the mist of christmas shopping fever in the UK.